High Street Optician versus Charity's Impa... - Macular Society

Macular Society

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High Street Optician versus Charity's Impaired Vision clinic.

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I was due at the end of May to visit my regular High Street Optician. Instead, I took up the offer to see a visiting ophthalmologist at the local charity concern. I had to wait almost 3 months to get an appointment, but it was well worth it in the end. Here are the benefits I found:

1) They issue prescriptions but do not dispense, so there is no pressure on getting new specs, which I had year after year, though sometimes they felt no different from the old ones.

2) He spent almost 3/4 an hour with me in a relaxed atmosphere, telling me his findings and answering all my questions. What a difference from High Street Opticians and visits to the eye Clinic where you feel you are on a conveyor belt!

3) I learnt something new, too. The large number of floaters in my 'good eye' are not the more common floaters - the clumping together of vitreous gel - but Asteroid Hyalosis, a build up of calcium and lipids. I had never heard of the term and in fact no one had ever commented on the state of my right eye before even though the sight in that eye is no better than in the left. Both eyes, however, are scanned and monitored regularly. I would really rather be told exactly what is going on.

I certainly will go back there in a years time.

13 Replies

Great stuff and well done! If you're writing about UK High Street opticians, there's a massive variation in the interest shown by their optometrists.

Regular eye tests are free if you're old enough and/or they result in a change in prescription. Most of them seem to offer free tests most of the time anyway.

You are under no obligation to buy anything after a test and they are obliged to give you the prescription. I ask for two prescriptions, one for normal reading and one for the increased distance needed for a computer screen.

Armed with the 2 prescription, I then go online and buy from one of the many services available. Two pairs of basic glasses (with the same prescription) in very reasonable basic frames come at around £15 - assembled in USA, flown to UK and with me around 7-10 days after the order. You can go upmarket with the frames if you wish.

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Hidden in reply to yotboy

Thanks, yotboy.

I am aware that I am not obliged to buy the new specs from the company who have done the test, but I have found that each time, they have whipped me very suddenly and very quickly into the dispensing department. So I have hardly time to say, "Sorry, I do not wish buy my specs right now." I suppose I could state my request for merely a prescription at any time during the procedures, but it seems embarrassing because they seem to expect you to go along with their regime. I don't want to create a fuss. But next time, if there is a next time, I will definitely speak up and not allow myself to be stampeded into the sales room.

yotboy
yotboy in reply to Hidden

Embarassment is for friends! Either the NHS pays for the test or it is a promotional ploy. The form you sign at the end is so they can be oaid. Demand (nicely) the precription and tell them you will not be purchasing today - you have 'other shops' to look at!

Good luck!

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That’s interesting, I had not heard of that option. The high street multis are franchises and very variable. Get a good one and they are fine but the next time you visit it may have changed hands and you end up with pot luck with no way of knowing how competent they are. That said, I have had better results from them than the privately owned businesses together with lower prices and more options.

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Hidden in reply to Hidden

Hi Rennatk

Thank you for your reply. Visiting my optician only once a year It is not really surprising that in the 10 years or so I have been with them I have not seen the same optometrist or technicians twice. And like you say, you never get to know how capable and interested they are until after the test. It also makes the whole affair very impersonal while I found the visit at the Charity concern friendly and easy-going and the meeting with the ophthalmologist very relaxing, even using first names during our conversation. Well, slight correction, I did not have the nerve to call him 'Barry'.

By the way, these eye tests too are paid by NHS if you qualify.

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Is the charity a nationwide one?

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Hidden in reply to Hidden

I am not sure. Ours is called The Partially Sighted Society. I am sure there must be similar concerns nation wide.

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Hidden in reply to Hidden

Ayay. Thanks, I will look around and mention it to my local MS Group. They are pretty knowledgeable.

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Hidden in reply to Hidden

Just to add that the Ophthalmologist gives only one day a month of his time to the charity. So it is not a regular service. The rest of the time he works in a hospital.

yotboy
yotboy in reply to Hidden

Assuming you have a large High Street, go to one on the NHS a nd another on a free promotional offer. Take the prescription from one and show it to the other -after the test.

All's fair in love, war, and the High Street. Like most, I was ripped off for years with the sales staff twisting my perfectly good frames this way and that way to 'show' I needed new ones. These are off the shelf lenses that are simply cut to your dimensions. The clever bit is the prescription, which is always done by a qualified optometrist - not the sales staff.

I have 'mystery shopped' opticians, where for the purpose of the report, one has to detail one's experience at each stage of the process- all strictly 'covert' of course. On one occasion (where I got 'free specs as part of the mystery shopping payment), I returned to collect the specs and the Manager asked me how my experience was with them.

I was able to give her a detailed and rather unfavourable account of what happend to me from the moment I made the appoinntment up to the moment I closed my order with them!

I have not (yet) been back!

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Hidden in reply to yotboy

Indeed, frames are another sore point with me. In my experience too, the High Street seems to refuse putting new lenses into existing frames even if they are perfectly OK. They use all sorts excuses and tell me that it costs almost as much. But at around £100 a year? And that is with the benefit of Pension Credit. And they are by no means the top of the range. What a waste! What a rip-off!

yotboy
yotboy in reply to Hidden

Get the prescription and buy on line. Google 'glasses on line' or (at the risk of being censured ) goggles4u.com. You can practice entering the prescription and choosing frames without making a purcchase.

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Am I imagining things or did I see some time ago an online lens provider offering to fit lenses into existing frames?

I have been using a high st franchise and they have been good so far over several years as far as prescription is concerned but I am due there in the v near future and wonder if there have been changes.

One thing I have found with several providers is that due to my wide ranging prescription it is very common for me to have to have lenses remade to get the distant and close vision bands deep enough.

I wonder too if anyone has experience of the variable lens specs. I am unable to use any off the shelf readers. The quality of the variable ones looks suspect to me though.

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